Your class has chosen to focus its gift on the School's Initiative on
Social Enterprise. What is it about your life and times that makes this
an appropriate gift?
Carl Behnke: Our class has lived and worked in a prolonged period of
unprecedented economic growth, resulting in great wealth for our nation
and opportunities for individual prosperity. Our gift affords us a
modest, yet critical role in providing stewardship skills and an
understanding of philanthropy to future HBS and community leaders.
Fred Clark: The Class of 1973 lived through and learned from the civil
rights movement and the promise of an open, fair, and vibrant society as
articulated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. After seeing some of the
excesses of the early seventies, many in our class have been inspired to
address inconsistencies in society by working from within the system
rather than pursuing more radical approaches.
Joseph Schell: As we turn fifty, many of us finally have time to reflect
on our life's ambitions. It's a great time to get started or to expand
our interests and devote our energies to worthwhile causes beyond our
jobs and our families. That is what's driving a lot of us to branch out
into social and community activities beyond our business life.
Jerry Ostrov: My impression is that there is a widely shared belief
among us that significant positive change can and will happen and that
people like us must help lead such change.
What does your company do regarding social enterprise, philanthropy,
public service, and community involvement?
Davey Scoon: At Colonial, we have an Outstanding Volunteer Program,
which includes a volunteer recognition program, quarterly group
volunteer projects, a school partnership program that allows employees
to take off up to eight hours per month to volunteer, and frequent food
and clothing collection drives.
John Ince: One World, my company, is a nonprofit devoted to protecting
the earth's environment. It has a community-oriented, socially
responsible mission. There is tremendous inefficiency in the
environmental community, and one of our goals is to facilitate the
formation of strategic alliances between and amongst environmentalists
and other sectors of society to reduce some of this overlap of services.
Ostrov: Johnson & Johnson is guided in all of its business practices
by a deceptively simple, four-paragraph credo. One tenet reads: "We are
responsible to the communities in which we live and work and to the
world community as well." We are also a leader in encouraging other
corporations to recognize that well-run philanthropy is not only good
social policy but also good business.
Do you agree that while 25 years ago most companies dismissed social
enterprise as irrelevant to their mandate, many now view it as integral
to their operations?
Schell: Yes, clearly the pendulum has swung toward social
responsibility. Corporate America today realizes it has broader
responsibilities that go beyond concerns for its shareholders, its
employees, and its customers. It has an additional responsibility to the
Ince: While companies are increasingly becoming aware of their social
responsibilities, I am afraid that most managers still see
environmentalists as adversaries. This is a fundamental problem. Too few
managers appreciate the integral relationship between the economy and
the natural environment. I believe the time is coming soon when events
will force us to realize that environmentalists and businesspeople must
see each other as allies in the process of pursuing the common good.
Have you observed ways in which social enterprise activity has
positively affected company operations and employee morale?
Behnke: Employees take pride in knowing that their company supports a
variety of social service agencies. Employees who volunteer individually
and through organized company programs bring renewed enthusiasm to the
Scoon: Our company has benefited in three ways from social enterprise
activity. First, we take pride in being known as a generous and
public-spirited organization. Second, departments that have done
projects as a group achieve a certain camaraderie. Third, dealing with
social enterprise organizations automatically requires us to interact
with and learn from people who have different backgrounds and attitudes.
Are there areas where business has stepped into issues that should be
left to government?
Ince: One of the profound changes over the last 25 years has been the
gradual shift of power from the public to the private sector. The
assumption has been that the private sector can do it better, and the
market mechanism is a more efficient distributor of resources than
government. The enthusiasm of private parties for various approaches to
solving social problems needs to be tempered by an overall concern for
the interests of society.
Schell: I think that in almost every case the free enterprise system
develops a quicker and less expensive answer than government. For
example, we need to figure out how to improve the quality of education
in this country. Our public educational system is failing, and true to
form, entrepreneurs are rising to the challenge. At NationsBanc
Montgomery Securities, we are great believers in companies that are
taking advantage of this overlap between the need for better education
and the instincts of a business community to fill that market need.
Clark: Public education has declined, so I think there needs to be some
new way of providing quality learning. Business can help with
scholarships for alternative schools, tutoring, mentoring, or demanding
rigor from the curriculum. Because business has a real interest in an
educational pool that is skilled and well-versed in the basics, business
leaders should take an active role in their communities to try to affect
the quality of schooling.
Why is it important for HBS to recognize social enterprise as a field of
Clark: As government shrinks, a greater role will have to be played by
the private sector. As the world becomes more complex, community-based
organizations will need the leadership and management skills that HBS
can provide. In today's world, business and its leaders can no longer
afford to be one-dimensional and narrow in focus. Business executives
need to broaden the definition of their fiduciary duties in their
business practices and ask themselves how their products and services
enhance or lower the quality of society in general.
Scoon: While social enterprises are different in many profound ways in
terms of mission and style, to run effectively they rely on many of the
analytical skills with which we are familiar. Clearly, the School and
its graduates can add value to the community.
Behnke: The Initiative on Social Enterprise introduces some of our
nation's brightest individuals to a variety of social enterprise
organizations. This exposure will motivate them to invest with time and
Ostrov: The field of social enterprise has tremendous potential to help
address key issues of our society. It requires goals, structure, and
discipline. This is true regarding the management of philanthropy within
corporate America and in the area of developing alliances between the
private and nonprofit sectors. HBS could become a major force in making